My search for the best beer in New York continues….
My life is laden with indecisiveness, so when places make it easier for me to not make a decision, I truly appreciate it. Keg No. 229 was both difficult and easy for me. I had a $2 off coupon from the NYC Craft Beer Week passport, it also happened to be Happy Hour here (which means half off all draft beers), and there was one more affordable option. Which option to take advantage of??
I had visited Keg No. 229 in the past right after my Financial District food cart tour. I really like this place. Every time I’ve come (granted, it’s always been around 3:00) it’s been empty, feeling homey and upscale. I’m sure that changes right around 5:00 when all the business people from the nearby Financial District are looking for a watering hole.
What’s unique about this place is that last affordable option I mentioned. In one corner of the bar, looking as high tech as a casino, sits four help yourself tap stations. The way this works is you drink as much as you want (up to a certain safety limit) from either of the two tap lines you choose and you pay as you drink. It costs just 42 cents per ounce, which roughly estimates to $7 a beer. That’s the price of most of their tap beers anyway, which isn’t a great deal. Yet this would give me two beer options and limit my decision making, so it seemed like the best option. Plus who doesn’t love playing bartender for a bit?
I sat at the station with both Captain Lawrence’s Brown Ale and Sixpoint’s Sweet Action. I didn’t have to insert any quarters or game cards, just start pouring. A screen keeps track of how many ounces are poured. I vowed not to exceed 16 ounces (a pint) because I didn’t want to spend more than 7 bucks and also because it was still the middle of the day.
I had tried Sixpoint’s Sweet Action a few years ago when we served it at The Modern. I had some issues with Sixpoint’s beers in the past, but I decided to try them all on this search with an open mind and a clean slate. And I’m glad I did because I got a greater appreciation for this brew. Sweet Action, Sixpoint’s flagship beer, is classified around the internet as a Cream Ale. I do think it’s a tough one to define, but I would guess (with my still limited beer knowledge) it was closer to an amber ale.
I didn’t fill the glass to the top, but a beautiful creamy foam formed tall on the orange amber body. Yeast, malt, and resin aromas emanated from the lliquid. It smelled like a brewery, which to me is a beautiful smell. And on tasting this, it tasted like a good old fashioned beer with lots of balanced flavors and a tribute to all the ingredients. There was definitely a malty, honey sweetness right off the bat with some biscuit notes. I detected slight notes of ripe fruits like apricot before it finished with palatable dry hops. It might have poured a little too cold, but other than that, the flavors were balanced and a medium mouthfeel made this a very drinkable well-rounded beer.
The Brown Bird Brown Ale from Captain Lawrence was a very different beer from the Sweet Action. I like that they give you options at Keg No. 229. This one poured a dark amber with a hint of rust color and very little head. The nose exploded with buttery toffee smells. I have read that a strong butterscotch flavor could be a result of diacetyl, which is an infection of the beer. I’m not sure if that was the case here, but am I wrong for liking what I tasted?
The beer had some light roasted coffee notes with brown sugar and caramel. It wasn’t terribly complex with very little hop notes, but smooth and balanced with a backbone of cherry and chestnuts. I don’t know if that butterscotch flavor was supposed to be there, but I loved it and was tempted to pour myself some more.
And at Keg No. 229, I could. This place gives me so many options, which I both appreciate and detest. One more option might have made my brain explode.
Is Sixpoint Craft Ale’s Sweet Action the best beer in NY? It gets a very solid 9 out of 10 because it is as balanced and drinkable as any beer I’ve ever tasted.
Is Captain Lawrence’s Brown Bird Brown Ale the best beer in NY? While the rich, buttery notes might not be for everyone, I give it an 8 out of 10 because I loved those butterscotch toffee flavors and found it to be far from overwhelming.
|SIXPOINT CRAFT ALES|
|CAPTAIN LAWRENCE BREWING COMPANY|
|KEG NO. 229|
|229 Front Street (between Beekman Street and Peck Slip)